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Dispatches from the Margins: Writers in Exile

New York

Saturday, May 14, 2022 | 12:00pm-1:15pm
Judson Memorial Church
55 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012

Use PARTWVF22 for 25% off tickets

The PEN World Voices Literary Festival is the premier celebration of international literature in the United States, a landmark event on New York City’s, and now Los Angeles’s, cultural calendar. Join us live and in person in New York City and Los Angeles from May 11–14, 2022 for four days with more than 80 writers from 25 countries who will be featured in 30 cross-cultural exchanges and events—from lively debates that delve into the most pressing issues of our time, to intimate conversations that awaken us to the quiet beauty and power of literature. An engaging program of talks, panels, conversations, and performances draws a vibrant and diverse crowd of socially engaged and intellectually curious New Yorkers and LA audiences, who are eager to be challenged, inspired, and entertained.

Writers’ power to expose inequalities, mobilize collective resistance, and share unorthodox perspectives risks putting them in the crosshairs of governments and extremist groups that seek to silence independent thought and dissident ideas. With their lives and livelihoods under threat, these writers are often forced into exile to seek a place where they can create freely and safely. 

Join Amy Goodman, the host of Democracy Now!, for an illuminating conversation on persecution for free expression and the written word. The discussion will shine a light on the experiences of writers at risk globally, and will feature Egyptian writer, filmmaker, and activist Sanaa Seif; Ugandan filmmaker and writer Achiro P. Olwoch; and Uyghur author and human rights advocate Jewher Ilham. 

This event is presented in partnership with PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) and supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.


Amy Goodman is a journalist and the host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, a grassroots, global award-winning independent news hour airing on over 1,500 public television and radio stations worldwide. Her many awards include the Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’ for “developing an innovative model of truly independent grassroots political journalism that brings to millions of people the alternative voices that are often excluded by the mainstream media.” She is the co-author of six New York Times bestsellers and co-writes a weekly column that is syndicated by King Features.

Jewher Ilham is an author and advocate for the Uyghur community and for her imprisoned father, Uyghur economist Ilham Tohti.She has testified before the U.S. Congressional-Executive Committee on China, published op-eds in The New York Times, CNN and The Guardian, and received numerous international awards on behalf of her father. In 2015, she recounted her experiences in her book, Jewher Ilham: A Uyghur’s Fight to Free Her Father. Her second book, Because I Have To: The Path to Survival, the Uyghur Struggle has been released in spring of 2022. Ilham currently works at the Worker Rights Consortium and serves as a spokesperson for the Coalition to End Uyghur Forced Labour. She is also assisting on the production of a documentary film, Static and Noise, about Uyghurs.

Achiro Patricia Olwoch hails from Gulu, in Northern Uganda and is currently an artist at risk in residence at Westbeth. She is the creator and writer of the TV series Coffee Shop and is the head writer at Yat Madit. Her short films include The SurrogateThe Mineral Basket, and Maraya Ni. She is currently working on a feature documentary, My Prison Diary, due for release in 2023 and she has three feature scripts in development. She is also in the process of completing her late father’s manuscripts and is at work on her first novel Sex or Slave, set in 1940s Uganda during colonialism. She also has in the works a memoir about her life as a lesbian in Uganda and her eventual escape.

Sanaa Seif is an Egyptian filmmaker, producer and political activist. She has been imprisoned three times under the Sisi regime for her activism, most recently from the summer of 2020 until December 2021, when she was abducted by security forces after trying to get a letter to her brother in prison. Hundreds of cultural figures and dozens of institutions campaigned for her release and she was released in December. She is currently promoting her imprisoned brother, Alaa Abd el-Fattah’s, newly published book, You Have Not Yet Been Defeated.

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